The Biggest Junk Science of 2013

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#8. PETA Claims Chicken Wings Shrink Baby's Penis

In August, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued an ominous warning to all expecting mothers.

"The latest scientific evidence shows that the sons of pregnant women who consume chicken are more likely to have smaller penises because of a chemical found in the birds’ flesh."

That's pretty scary stuff, so the editors at Women's Health Magazine diligently took it upon themselves to dig into PETA's claim. What they discovered was decidedly not as frightening to poultry consumers.

The "evidence" that PETA cited didn't even look at chicken consumption, but at compounds called phthalates. Researchers from the prestigious Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that maternal exposure to these compounds can decrease the amount of testosterone a boy is exposed to in the womb. Low levels of phthalates are used in vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products. By comparison, chicken contains very, very little.

“I think any link between eating buffalo wings—even by pregnant women—and the size of their son’s genitals is very tenuous," lead researcher Shanna H. Swan told Women's Health.

(Image: stef yau via Wikimedia Commons)

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